Boost Your Job Search with the Buddy System
By: C. J. Hayden
Remember back in grade school when the teacher asked you to hold
hands with a friend on field trips? The idea behind the buddy system is
that it's much harder to get lost if there are two of you traveling
together. When you get into trouble, your buddy can help you out, or find
someone else who can.
Maybe you could use a buddy in your job search. The constant challenges you
encounter while seeking out job opportunities and going on interviews make
job-seeking a difficult road to travel all alone, and it's easy to get
lost. Teaming up with a job search buddy can give you:
Perspective - A different point of view on your progress or challenges.
Just hearing your problem restated by another person can give you new
insight that will help you find a solution.
New Ideas - A partner for brainstorming and an extra pair of eyes and ears
to spot opportunities. You can double the amount of knowledge and
experience at your fingertips.
Accountability - Someone other than yourself to whom you are accountable --
who will ask you once a week what you have done so far, and what's next.
Support - Space to complain or celebrate out loud, with someone who cares
about your progress. If you're facing a roadblock, grousing about it for a
few minutes may be all you need to get back into action. And having someone
to share your success with can make it much sweeter.
While you could use your spouse, best friend, or a co-worker to provide
this extra help, the individuals closest to you may not be the best choice.
The people in your personal life will not always be thrilled with how much
time you're spending on looking for work, and your co-workers may tend to
sidetrack you with day-to-day job issues. You may find it more helpful to
find a buddy who can maintain some detachment, but who also understands the
importance of your job search.
You and your buddy can assist each other in reaching your goals by setting
up a regular check-in, where each of you reports on progress, announces
successes, and describes challenges. The buddy's job is to listen,
celebrate, commiserate, and be a brainstorming partner. Here's how to make
the buddy system work for you in job-seeking:
1. Set a fixed time to talk. Whether you meet by phone or in person, set a
start and end time for your conversation. Half an hour is enough; an hour
2. Check in about goals and action steps. Make a brief report about where
you are with your job search and what steps you have taken since your last
meeting. Keep your check-in brief and to the point, e.g. "I got one
interview this week, and set up two appointments for networking lunches. I
revised my résumé to include more of my past accomplishments, and applied
for three new job openings." Acknowledge your buddy's progress and
celebrate his or her success.
3. Help each other solve problems. Ask your buddy to first just listen
while you tell him or her what's going on and clear your emotional reaction
to it. Your buddy can say things like, "Gee, that's tough," or "How awful!"
but should not offer any advice until you are through. Talk about not only
what is happening, but how it makes you feel. If it sounds like
complaining, that probably means you're doing it right.
You might say something like this: "I've been trying for two weeks to
finish my résumé, and there's just been one emergency after another, and
now my mother wants me to help sell her car, and I'm so frustrated! All the
words I write down just come out wrong, and I don't think it'll ever come
together, and I needed it yesterday, and I'm so worried that..." You get
Set a time limit of 5 minutes for reporting and clearing. At the end of
that time, ask your buddy to summarize for you: "I hear how frustrated and
worried you are. You seem to have two problems that need to be solved --
finding the time to work on the résumé, and getting the words to come out
right. Are you ready to look at some solutions?"
4. Brainstorm possible solutions. Your buddy's job is not necessarily to
hand you the right answer -- his or her more important role is to help you
expand your thinking to come up with some new ideas. Take your problems one
at time, and together with your buddy, make a list of possible solutions.
Don't edit the list as you are brainstorming; include anything and
everything that comes up. You are not allowed to say, "That won't work," or
"I already tried that."
Here are the potential results of a brainstorm on getting the right words
for a résumé:
- hire a résumé writer
5. Decide on your next steps. If none of the brainstormed ideas seem right,
look at each one to see if there's something useful in it. Maybe you can't
afford a résumé writer, but you know one you could ask for a word or two of
free advice. Perhaps a class would take too long, but you could check out a
book from the library. Find just one thing you can do that will get you
moving toward a solution.
- plagiarize my friend's résumé
- use the thesaurus
- ask my cousin the writer to help
- do a résumé with only pictures
- don't use a résumé at all
- look at sample résumés on the Internet
- take a class in how to write a résumé
- use what I have and stop worrying
- have some colleagues review it
Regardless of any problems you try to solve during your session, always end
by naming what steps you will take on your job search before your next
meeting. Write these steps down - both yours and your buddy's - so you can
check in about them next time.
6. Keep the relationship reciprocal. Make sure each of you gets an equal
amount of time at your meetings. If you end up spending the whole session
on one person's problem, devote the next session to the other buddy. Keep
your buddy in mind as you make new discoveries and meet new people, and
share any opportunities you uncover. The buddy system works best when you
do for your buddy what you would like your buddy to do for you.
C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Hired Now! and Get Clients Now! Since
1992, she has helped thousands of professionals make a better living doing
what they love. C.J. is a Master Certified Coach who leads workshops
internationally in person, on the phone, and on the web. Find out more
about C.J. and get a free copy of "How to Find a Job in 28 Days or Less" at
Visit my Webpage at: www.davisgoss.com
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org